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The world’s most popular Catholic arrives in D.C. Tuesday for a three-day trip, during which he will meet with President Obama, celebrate his first Mass on U.S. soil, and deliver remarks to a joint session of Congress. Pope Francis will also participate in a Popemobile parade next to the White House, around the Ellipse. Borrowing from Beyoncé, we ask: Can you see his halo…? Or, if you don’t want to see Francis and the massive crowds he’ll surely draw: How can you not?
Here is an annotated version of Francis’ public schedule, with tips on how to spot or avoid him. For a visual, consult DDOT’s pope map.
Tuesday, Sept. 22
The former cardinal’s plane lands at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. No events are scheduled, but Francis will head to the Vatican Embassy (a.k.a. the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See), near the Naval Observatory. Parts of Massachusetts Avenue NW are closed for all three days.
POPE: No Pope for you! (But you’ll likely hear his motorcade heading northwest through D.C.)
NOPE: Avoid northbound Massachusetts Avenue between Observatory Circle South and 34th Place NW. If you must travel south on that road, it’ll be open between 34th and Waterside Drive.
Wednesday, Sept. 23
Pope Francis visits President Obama at the White House, where they’ll discuss social issues, including economic opportunity, environmentalism, religious freedom, and immigration.
POPE: This State Arrival Ceremony will occur on the South Lawn (there’ll even be a red carpet), but, again, you likely won’t get to see His Excellency through thousands of invited state-guests.
NOPE: A large swath of downtown D.C. will be closed to traffic, in part bounded by I Street NW, 7th St. SW, Independence Avenue SW, and 23rd Street NW. Telework if you can—many Feds will be doing so.
Parade time! Il Papa will be in the Popemobile between the Ellipse and a slice of the National Mall. This is the average person’s best opportunity to see him: It’s publicly open.
POPE: Get to the area EARLY. Security gates open at 4 a.m.; entrance is first-come, first-served. Nearby Metro stations include Farragut West/North, McPherson Square, and Federal Triangle.
NOPE: If you’re driving near the Mall, you’ll have to take alternative routes like 12th Street SW (north), Independence Avenue SW (east), 23rd Street NW (north), and the 3rd Street Tunnel (north).
Francis will lead a midday prayer with U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew.
POPE: This is likely to be a private event, so your chances of seeing the Pope are slim at best.
NOPE: A triangle bounded by M Street, 17th Street, and Rhode Island Avenue NW will be shut.
The Pope will deliver a canonization Mass for Junípero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Brookland. It will be his first Mass in the U.S.
POPE: You need one of 25,000 tickets for this one; as the Mass will be given in Spanish, they’re mostly going to the District’s Hispanic Catholic community via local parishes and charities. The Brookland Metro station—which will be exit-only before the event—can only process about 4,500 riders an hour, so transit officials are encouraging worshippers to get off at adjacent stops, where shuttle bus service, including Circulators diverted from the Mall, will be available. The D.C. Archdiocese will broadcast the Mass on Jumbotrons near the intersection of 15th Street and Constitution Ave.
NOPE: The area immediately surrounding the basilica—partially bounded by Taylor Street, John McCormack Drive, Michigan Avenue, and North Capitol Street NE—will be closed, as will parts of 4th Street NE. Detours will run in both directions along Franklin Street and 12th Street NE.
Thursday, Sept. 24
Pope Francis will deliver an address to a joint meeting of Congress—the first time a reigning pope will have addressed the body.
POPE: The Pope’s speech will air live on a screen on the West Front of the Capitol Building.
NOPE: Stay away from the dome: A three-block radius around the Capitol will be closed, except for the 3rd Street Tunnel, which will permit northbound traffic. Southwest Freeway will remain open in both directions.
Francis will be whisked to St. Patrick’s Church to give a blessing and serve the poor.
POPE: The event will likely be closed to public access, but, hey, we can’t stop you from trying to catch a glimpse.
NOPE: A rectangle around the church, bordered by F, H, 10th, and 9th streets NW, will closed.
Pope Francis departs for New York from Andrews Air Force Base.